New location will foster translation of research from the laboratory to the bedside
The University of Texas Health Science Center, now called UT Health San Antonio™, broke ground Oct. 17 on a new location for the Sam & Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies, one of the world’s premier aging research institutes.
William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of UT Health San Antonio, welcomed Mrs. Ann Barshop, who spoke on behalf of her late husband, Sam Barshop, and their family. Their daughter, Jamie Barshop, and grandson, Ben Barshop, attended the ceremony along with Colleen Barshop, the wife of Sam and Ann Barshop’s son, Bruce Barshop. Sam Barshop’s sister, Doris Spector, and her son, Mitch Spector, also attended.
Sam Barshop was a legendary businessman who served on The University of Texas System Board of Regents. He was also an emeritus member of the President’s Development Board of UT Health San Antonio. Sam and Ann Barshop were generous philanthropists to UT Health San Antonio and many other institutions and organizations. Bruce Barshop currently serves on the UT Health President’s Development Board.
Mrs. Barshop; President Henrich; James C. “Rad” Weaver of The University of Texas System Board of Regents; William H. McRaven, chancellor of the UT System; and The Honorable Joe Straus, speaker of the Texas House, each offered remarks at the groundbreaking, which doubled as an institute rededication.
From ideas to applications
“The Sam & Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity & Aging Studies exists to move the science of healthy aging from the idea stage in a laboratory to preclinical and animal studies, and ultimately into human application,” President Henrich said.
“To better do that, research and clinical activities should be conducted in close proximity to each other,” President Henrich said. “This will foster translation of therapies to benefit humanity, which is a goal of the Barshop Institute and of UT Health San Antonio.”
The Sam & Ann Barshop Institute comprises approximately 200 faculty investigators working in many buildings and departments of UT Health. The institute headquarters has been at the Texas Research Park since 2005 and will be relocated to the corner of Floyd Curl and Charles Katz drives in the South Texas Medical Center. Clinical activities occur at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System and other locations primarily in the Medical Center and distant to the Research Park.
An elite designation
The Sam & Ann Barshop Institute has held a prestigious designation—a Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging—since 1995. This center designation is awarded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health. Currently there are only six funded Shock Centers nationwide, according to the NIA, and the Sam & Ann Barshop Institute is the only one in Texas.
“A Nathan Shock Center of the NIA is equivalent to a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center in terms of stature in the field of aging,” said Nicolas Musi, M.D., professor in the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine and director of the Sam & Ann Barshop Institute. He also spoke at the institute rededication.
In 2015, the NIA designated the Sam & Ann Barshop Institute as one of the nation’s Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Centers. This crucial center designation is enhancing the clinical component of the Sam & Ann Barshop Institute, which was historically strong in bench research of the biology of aging.
The Sam & Ann Barshop Institute is the only aging-intensive research institute in the country to currently have all of the following four designations: the NIA-funded Nathan Shock and Claude D. Pepper centers, a testing site of the NIA-sponsored Interventions Testing Program, and a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Geriatric Research, Education & Clinical Center (GRECC).
The Sam & Ann Barshop Institute is also attracting and training excellent students, thanks to a $3.4 million NIA training grant. This grant enables 10 graduate students and six postdoctoral fellows to pursue novel research. It is the largest training grant of its kind in the biology of aging in the country.
Age underlies many diseases
Age is a primary risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer, metabolic disease and many other conditions. Faculty of the Sam & Ann Barshop Institute are studying potential ways to intervene in the aging process. Initiatives include:
— A $6.5 million NIH-funded study, conducted with the UT Medical Branch, of how exercise changes the body at the molecular level. The project will create a so-called molecular map of circulating signals produced by physical activity.
— Studies of whether a diabetes medication, metformin, can protect senior adults against frailty, which is a condition of muscle weakness, slowness, unintentional weight loss, sedentary lifestyle and exhaustion. Senior adults with diabetes and prediabetes are at higher risk of developing frailty, research shows.
— Studies of a gene called TXNRD2 as a novel pharmacological target to improve heart function.
— Studies of whether a new class of drugs called senolytics may be effective to treat cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.
—Studies to evaluate whether rapamycin and other novel compounds can treat people with mild cognitive impairment, which is considered a pre-dementia stage.
Faculty recruits and greater NIH funding
The Sam & Ann Barshop Institute has recruited 10 new faculty since 2015. National Institutes of Health funding has increased from $6 million in fiscal 2015 to nearly $9 million in fiscal 2017. “Extramural funding from various sources is enabling our faculty to continue discovering advancements in aging research,” Dr. Musi said.
Dr. Musi, a physician-researcher who is fellowship-trained in endocrinology and metabolism, occupies the Sam and Ann Barshop Endowed Chair in Translational Research.
Read additional quotes and find project information (cost, dimensions, design/build firms) at With new home, Barshop Institute begins new era of aging research.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, with missions of teaching, research and healing, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities and is now called UT Health San Antonio™. UT Health’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 33,000 alumni who are advancing their fields throughout the world. With seven campuses in San Antonio and Laredo, UT Health San Antonio has a FY 2018 revenue operating budget of $838.4 million and is the primary driver of its community’s $37 billion biomedical and health care industry. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.